2007-03-20

Human parents of human babies

Many years ago, I frequented a board for new moms...I found it crazily helpful and much needed.

My son, who is now 8, was an infant; I was struggling with so many things, things which I now realize are normal for a new mom, but at the time made me feel like I was alone in my uncertainty. After all, shouldn't I ONLY be REJOICING in my newborn? Why am I struggling with things like nursing, and sleeping, and my body image (that is, the fat I retained after his birth and how oddly it was distributed...how can I be so shallow as to care about my body when I have this amazing baby boy?), and my new role in society (that is, from a very well respected professional to 'just' a SAHM), and being bummed that I wasn't going to the concert that my best friend was attending (I don't need to see Jane's Addiction, I should be content to stare at his beautiful face all evening), and the unexpected BOREDOM of spending hours on end with a person who can't speak.

There must be something wrong with me
, I thought, how can I not love every single second with this precious babe that I love more that I ever thought I could love anyone?

The guilt was excruciating at times.

If you are a parent, you know.

Why is it that when it comes to parenting we expect things to be all good, all the time? I've seen friends suffer disappointments that come from having such unrealistic, fuzzy bordered expectations of embarking on the parenting journey...not getting pregnant as easily as hoped, losing pregnancies, pregnancies being difficult for one reason or another, births going a direction unexpected and perhaps disappointing, hospitalizations being less than ideal to say the least, postpartum periods consisting of depression and sleeplessness, and more.

What I don't know is how to talk to friends who are having their first. On the one hand, I have a desire to warn pregnant friends that despite the fact that they are embarking on the most wonderful time of their lives, that despite the unfathamable joy they will experience becoming a parent, despite the fact that having children truely taught me the meaning of life, it isn't all Hallmarky-card all the time. But let's face it, they don't want to hear it. And what kind of a jerk tells people who are about to enter parenthood, "It ain't all roses. Just you wait!" That's the bitter old person in the office who says with a superior smirk, "Sleep now. Once that baby is here you won't sleep for years." I don't want to be that person. That person annoyed the piss out of me.

If we had more realistic expectations about parenthood, like we do in other aspects of our life, we could save ourselves so much pain borne out of that feeling of loneliness.

And even in writing that sentence I feel a bit guilty.

2 comments:

  1. Yes, yes, yes. Saw myself in there a lot.

    I hated it when people told me to "sleep now." Yeah, like it's some bank I can withdraw from later!

    I wonder if expectations aren't being lowered a bit now? Or if new parents are starting to feel a little more normal when things aren't picture perfect all the time? There just seems to be so much out there (i.e., books, paernting blogs) nowadays about how what parenting is REALLY like, maybe the tide is turning?

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  2. This is a great post, I remember that isolation after I had The Boy as well, so tough.

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Brilliant observations: